Vehicle on test
Seat Ibiza ST
Looks, ride and handling, economy and emissions
Not so Good:
Rear legroom, slightly over-light power steering
The motoring world only got its first glimpse of the SEAT Ibiza ST at the Geneva Motor Show at the beginning of March 2010, yet just 9 weeks later, UK motoring journalists were able to try out the car for the first time on roads close to the SEAT factory near Barcelona. Talk about being production-ready!
The ST (short for SporTourer) is the third Ibiza bodystyle, joining the three-door and five-door that have been around for a couple of years. First impressions of the Ibiza estate were pretty positive, although its full name does sound like the result of a pretty dull marketing meeting. Like its older siblings, the ST can thank the SEAT Head of Design, Luc Donckerwolke, for its looks and he and his team have come up with a stylish little car. Interior design continues the improvements that SEAT have been making of late, with the optional integrated TomTom mount that we first saw on the Ibiza five-door. Talking of size, incidentally, the ST might be 18cm longer than the five-door, but you have to remember that it’s not really a load-carrier. Folding the split rear seats does unlock a decent-sized load area on a par with the competition, but with the seats up, rear legroom isn’t exactly generous.
From launch, four engine options are available in the UK – two petrol and two turbodiesel – with the car featured in our video sporting the 1.4 litre petrol powerplant. We also sampled the 1.6 litre TDI and had a brief stint behind the wheel of the 1.2 TSI – but I’ll come back to that in a moment…..
Small estates aren’t exactly known for their razor-sharp handling and spirited performance and so, despite SEAT’s sporty image, the ST was never going to set the world alight. That said, it handles pretty well for an estate and the ride is a little less firm than we’ve come to expect from the Spanish brand. None of the cars crack the 10 second 0-62 benchmark, but the typical buyer will be more concerned with economy and emissions; the 1.4 we tried emits 139g/km of CO2 and returns nearly 48mpg, while the 1.6 litre turbodiesel breathes out just 109g/km and will do 67mpg on the combined cycle. What’s more the diesel feels a lot quicker, hitting 62mph a whole second and a half before the petrol-engined car. A 1.2 diesel Ecomotive variant, with Stop/Start will also join the line-up in due course, boasting sub-100g/km CO2 figures that’ll mean zero Vehicle Excise Duty and over 78mpg – not bad for an estate!
There’s actually very little to dislike about the way the car drives – perhaps the power-assisted steering could have given a little more feedback, but that’s about it. For families – the obvious target audience for the car – there’s lots to recommend the ST. The rear doors, for example, are slightly larger than those used in the five-door, while the rear hatch opens wide and has a low sill, making it easy to load.
Three trim levels are offered – SA/C, SE and Sport – with a reasonable options list that includes a panoramic sunroof, climate control and Bi-Xenon headlights. To be honest, the cars come pretty well-equipped as standard with prices starting at just over £12,000 for the entry-level 1.4 and rising to a little under £15,000 for the Ecomotive in SE trim.
Our favourite version might come as something of a surprise – the turbocharged 1.2 litre petrol-engined variant that’s actually more powerful than the 1.4. Our test car was also equipped with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and it made for a relaxing motorway cruise back to the airport.
The SEAT Ibiza ST, then, is a worthy competitor to the likes of the Skoda Fabia estate, the Renault Clio Sport Tourer and the Peugeot 207 SW. It looks good, drives well and offers class-leading economy and emissions figures. What’s more, it’s a family car that doesn’t look like a van with windows and, for many potential buyers, that in itself makes it worth taking for a roadtest!
Review by Mark James